Monday, April 15, 2024

WHO urges greater surveillance as new covid-19 variants emerge

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ith the recent emergence in the African region of new COVID-19 variants which seem to have higher transmissibility, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls on countries to boost genomic surveillance and analysis through the African genome sequencing laboratory network to detect any new mutations and strengthen the efforts to curb the pandemic.

South Africa recently detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, which appears to transmit more easily and is likely linked to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 infections in the country. Further analysis is underway to determine the full epidemiological significance of this mutation. Nigeria is also carrying out more investigations on a variant identified in samples collected in August and October.

“The emergence of new COVID-19 variants is common. However, those with higher speed of transmission or potentially increased pathogenicity are very concerning. Crucial investigations are underway to comprehensively understand the behaviour of the new mutant virus and steer response accordingly,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

In September 2020, WHO and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention launched network of 12 laboratories in Africa to reinforce genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2. As of 23 December, 4948 sequences had been produced in the region, representing just 2% of the 295 101 sequences done so far worldwide. Read more…

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